A list of newly released paperbacks.

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“That Distant Land: The Collected Stories”
by Wendell Berry (Shoemaker & Hoard, $16). Twenty-three stories written over the past 20 years, all set in Berry’s fictional Kentucky town of Port William. Tim McNulty said Berry’s themes have been “remarkably consistent: the ties of kinship, the ethos of community, the overriding presence of history and the underlying power of the land.”

by Nicholson Baker (Vintage, $10). One of our most gifted writers delivers his most controversial novel yet, about two friends’ tense confrontation as one announces plans to kill President George W. Bush and the other tries to talk him out of it.

“The Hamilton Case”
by Michelle de Kretster (Back Bay, $13.95). A lawyer’s entanglement in a murder case in 1930s Ceylon starts things off in a novel that Adam Woog described as “a poignant meditation on colonialism, family ties, race, and national identity.”

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“You Remind Me of Me” by Dan Chaon
(Ballantine, $13.95). The mysteries of nature and nurture are contemplated in a novel about two brothers, one given up for adoption and the second, born five years later, raised by his mother. Barbara Lloyd McMichael called the book “an intricate mosaic of shattered relationships and cobbled-together alliances.” In stores Tuesday.

“Blackbird House”
by Alice Hoffman (Ballantine, $13.95). A dozen stories set in the same Cape Cod house over a 200-year period. Rebecca Taylor said, “Hoffman masterfully plays with the tensions between character and place.”

“Saul and Patsy”
by Charles Baxter (Vintage, $13.95). A novel about an East Coast Jewish-gentile couple having a bumpy time adjusting to life in small-town Michigan. Valerie Ryan dubbed Baxter “a master of nuance, perception and insight.”

“Empress Orchid”
by Anchee Min (Mariner, $14). A novel about the early life of 19th-century Chinese empress Tzu Hsi. Carol Doup Muller commented, “Readers who appreciate well-crafted fiction will know to applaud Min’s talent and exceptional work.”

by Torgny Lindgren, translated by Tom Geddes (Overlook, $13.95). A 107-year-old newspaperman gives a far-from-reliable account of a teacher and someone who may be Nazi fugitive Martin Bormann as they roam Northern Sweden in search of the perfect pölsa (hash) recipe. Deloris Tarzan Ament called this “a tall tale, peppered with dark Scandinavian humor.”

“Brother and Sister”
by Joanna Trollope (Bloomsbury, $14.95). The latest from the British writer tells the story of two adoptees, unrelated by birth but raised as brother and sister. Melinda Bargreen praised Trollope as “an astute observer of complicated family relationships.”

“The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah”
by Stephen King (Scribner, $16.95). The penultimate installment in the pop writer’s fantasy series.


“Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age”
by Kevin Boyle (Owl, $15). National Book Award-winner about a racial murder in 1925 Detroit. John Freeman wrote, “Boyle narrates this event and the subsequent trial in a nervy present tense voice, helping us relive the event with the same urgency this country felt in 1925.”

“Madam Secretary”
by Madeleine Albright (Miramax, $14.95). President Clinton’s secretary of state recounts her life and her time in office. Kevin J. Hamilton called this “a fascinating review of recent American history.” With a new epilogue.

“The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America”
by Russell Shorto (Vintage, $14.95). This lively account of New York City in its 17th-century “New Amsterdam” incarnation suggests it was Dutch influence more than New England Puritan theocracy that gave rise to the bustling crazy-quilt of people and cultures we called the United States.

“Truth and Beauty: A Friendship”
by Ann Patchett (Perennial, $13.95). The prize-winning novelist (“Bel Canto”) recounts her friendship with troubled writer Lucy Grealy (“Autobiography of a Face”) who, after surviving childhood cancer, died of a heroin overdose at age 39. “This,” Melinda Bargreen wrote, “is a book that will break your heart.”

“What’s The Matter With Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America”
by Thomas Frank (Owl, $14). The founding editor of The Baffler examines why the citizens of his home state, traditionally a bastion of social reform and progressivism, have been persuaded by “culture-war” issues to vote against their own economic interests in recent decades. With a new afterword.

“Not Even Wrong: A Father’s Journey into the Lost History of Autism”
by Paul Collins (Bloomsbury, $14.95). Inspired by his young son’s autism, the nonfiction writer (“Banville’s Folly”) explores the nature of the syndrome. David Flood said Collins “distills extensive research to its essence and then allows the reader to connect the dots.”

“Sun After Dark: Flights into the Foreign”
by Pico Iyer (Vintage, $13). A vibrant collection of 17 essays by the noted travel writer (“The Global Soul”), with an emphasis on the ethics and philosophy of travel.

“American Soldier”
by Gen. Tommy Franks, with Malcolm McConnell (ReganBooks/HarperCollins, $16.95). The commander in chief of U.S. Central Command from July 2000 through July 2003 tells his life story. With a new afterword.

“A Year at the Races: Reflections on Horses, Humans, Love, Money, and Luck”
by Jane Smiley (Anchor, $13.95). The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist (“A Thousand Acres”) holds forth on her love of horses. Irene Wanner noted Smiley’s “infectious infatuation for everything equine.”

“A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier”
by Diana and Michael Preston (Berkley, $15). A new look at the life of the 17th-century explorer whose exploits included a little piracy. Eric Sorensen called the book “remarkable, in an unsettling sort of way.”

“Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants”
by Robert Sullivan (Bloomsbury, $14.95). The journalist who kayaked New Jersey’s pollution-soaked Meadowlands focuses his attention on another unpleasant urban phenomenon: rats. David B. Williams found this “an informative, easy-to-read mix of science, history and personal observation.”

“A Garden from a Hundred Packets of Seed”
by James Fenton (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $11). Just in time for spring: garden thoughts from the British poet, including, Mary Ann Gwinn noted, “a delightful, if head-scratching list” of Fenton’s favorite 100 plants.

Compiled by Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times book critic, with contributions cited from staff or freelance critics for The Seattle Times.